40 Days in Philippians DAY THIRTY

Read Philippians 4:8-9

 

In verse 8-9 we are given two verbs:

  1. Think
  2. Put into practice

In verse 8—“think about these things” in the Greek means, “to consider, to reckon, to think deeply”. Also it is a present imperative, which means that it is a command to be obeyed on a continuous basis. In other words, Paul is saying this: “have a lifestyle of continually thinking about these things”

 

Ultimately what things are honorable and lovely and excellent? Thoughts about Jesus and the gospel and the glory of God.

 

Read Colossians 3:1-3

 

Let’s do an exercise today and take each of these things that Paul wants us to think about and then mediate upon an aspect of God and His glory.

 

What things are:

 

  • True— Romans 3:4, Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 1:5

 

  • Honorable—1 Timothy 2:2, Titus 2:2, 3:8

 

  • Just—Revelation 15:3

 

  • Pure—2 Corinthians 11:2, 1 Timothy 5:22, James 3:17, 1 John 3:3

 

  • Lovely—Psalm 84:1-2

 

  • Commendable—2 Corinthians 6:8

 

  • Excellent—Psalm 150:2, 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Peter 1:3

 

  • Praiseworthy—Psalm 18:3

 

As you’ve read and thought about these, which one in particular has struck a chord in your soul today? Spend some time praising God for that and thinking deeply upon Him!

 

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40 Days in Philippians DAY TWENTY NINE

Read Philippians 4:2-9

 

Paul introduces us to two women, Euodia and Syntyche, and we don’t really know who these two women were and what the actual issue was.

 

Paul entreats (literally begs) them to “agree”—this is really the word “to have the same mind” we saw in 2:2 and 2:5

 

It has gotten so bad that Paul asks for a mediator— a loyal “yokefellow”—again we don’t know who it is but some scholars suggest his name is Syzygus.

 

This probably wasn’t an issue of heresy or immorality. If that were the case it would require total church discipline. It was probably a petty thing that got out of control.

 

We need to always be on guard against gossip, slander, backbiting, and divisions.  How would you like your name to show up in the Bible and all that was known about you was that you were a troublemaker who was causing problems in the church?

 

You may not always agree with me as Pastor, or some of the decisions of elders, or some of the things that we do here at Emmanuel, and that is totally fine. We are called to unified, not always unanimous. We will always have differences of opinions on secondary issues and matters of preference.

 

As we move forward as a church, it is imperative that we grow in Christian maturity to handle conflict Biblically. Too many times I have seen believers gossip, and spread rumors and wreak havoc instead of going directly to the other person and gently confronting them in Christ.

 

If someone comes to you and begins to gossip about another person, I challenge you to silence them and tell them that you will have no part in the conversation.
Read Ephesians 4:25-32

 

Do you know what grieves the Holy Spirit of God? When Christians gossip, lie, spread rumors, do not forgive, backbite, and devour one another instead of showing kindness, compassion, patience, and humility.

 

Don’t be a Euodia or Syntyche!

 

Read Philippians 4:4-9

 

These verses naturally divide into two sections. 4-7 and 8-9 and they unite around the theme of peace.

 

Paul repeats the command to “rejoice” twice.

 

In verse 5 the ESV translates it “reasonableness”—it’s a very hard word in the Greek. It means gentleness or graciousness.

 

In light of the Second Coming, why is being gracious and gentle a good testimony to a watching world?  Go back to 2:14-15

 

Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything.

 

Read Matthew 6:25-34 and count how many times Jesus tells us not to be anxious.

 

This is the beauty of prayer. We can go to our heavenly Father and make our requests known to Him. We can approach His throne of grace with help in time of need.

 

Read Matthew 6:7-13

 

In this model prayer, Jesus tells us first and foremost to being our prayers addressing and worshipping a holy God who is in heaven. We come to the Father pleading for His will and kingdom to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Our prayers start with worship and adoration and humility.
But they also move to requests.  We can ask God for daily bread. We can ask God to forgive us. We can ask God to give us help in our times of temptation. We can ask God for anything that would be within His will and bring Him glory.

 

So in our anxiety, we must plead and ask and beg and go to God as a needy child who is loved by a generous Father.

 

One thing we don’t see in this passage is HOW and WHEN God answers prayer. All it says is that we will experience peace. God may not answer our prayers in the way that we think He should have. He may not answer our prayers in the timing that we think He should have. Our Father knows best.
But yet regardless of our circumstances, He does promise to grant us this unusual peace, which will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

The word “guard” is a military term implying that peace stands on duty to keep out anything that brings care or anxiety.

 

What are you anxious about today? What is lying heavy on your heart? What burden consumes your thoughts?

 

Read 1 Peter 5:6-7

 

Go to your heavenly Father through the merits of Christ alone in the power of the Spirit and ask Him to calm your anxiety. Cast all your cares upon Him. Throw all of your burdens at God—He can handle it! He cares for You and deeply loves you!

 

Dear Good and Gracious Father,

I come to You today and cast all my cares upon You, because You deeply care about me. I come to You through the merits of Christ alone! I deeply desire Your peace that passes understanding. Thank you for listening to me and for being my great Heavenly Father.  I may have many things today that are making me anxious, but I focus on You and Your provision. Please calm my heart and give me the assurance of both Your power and Your presence.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Days in Philippians DAY TWENTY EIGHT

Read Philippians 3:18-4:1

 

In verse 19, Paul gives four very specific statements that explain the theology and practices of these false teachers who are enemies of the gospel.

 

First of all, their eternal end is destruction. This does not mean that they will cease to exist in hell, but that they would bear the consequences of their sin in eternal conscious torment.

 

Read 2 Peter 2:17 and Jude12-13, which describe the future of those who are false teachers.

 

Secondly, their god is their belly.

 

In essence, they worship food. They are gluttons!

 

Thirdly, they glory in their shame.

 

This is pretty difficult to understand at first glance. In consulting commentaries, Paul is addressing the Jewish legalists who were glorying in their circumcision. “Their shame” referred to their “private parts”. In other words, these Jewish false teachers were making a big deal about circumcision as the “be all, end all” of their spirituality.

 

Read Galatians 6:13-14

 

Fourthly, their minds are set on earthly things. They were so preoccupied with status, their circumcision, their legalistic regulations, and trying to look good to others, that they had no mind for eternal and heavenly things.

 

Read Colossians 3:2

 

Legalism is such a killer to true spiritual maturity and growth because it takes our focus off of Christ and the gospel and puts it on outward behavior modification that doesn’t impact the heart.

 

In verses 20-21, Paul again makes a striking contrast between these false teachers and true believers.

 

He says “BUT our citizenship is in heaven”.  This issue of citizenship would have been a big deal to the Philippians who were very proud of their Roman citizenship.

 

St. Augustine was one of the first theologians to promote this idea of the “City of Man” and the “City of God”. As Americans, we are in the city of man. We are under the federal laws and Constitution of the United States and we are citizens of a government that God has ordained. Yet, while we have one foot in this city of Man, our real citizenship is the city of God. We are strangers and aliens here on earth awaiting our true home in heaven.

 

In light of what is going on in our nation right now it has made many people think about how they relate to the president and our government. Christians are wondering how we can live under a government or with a president with whom we may disagree strongly.

 

Read the following Scriptures that remind us how we are to act in the city of Man.

 

Romans 13:1-7

 

1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

1 Peter 2:13-17

 

As we live in the city of man, we are in the world, but not of the world and we await the return of Jesus our Savior.

 

The wonderful thing about the Second Coming of Christ is that he will transform our bodies and we will receive our resurrected, glorified bodies to be able to live with Him forever in our true home of citizenship—the new heavens and new earth.

 

The second half of verse 21 speaks of the power and authority of Christ.

 

Read Ephesians 1:21-22 and Colossians 1:15-20

 

Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

 

Philippians 4:1 is actually included as the end of that section in the Greek New Testament and concludes Paul’s thought process in chapter 3.

 

Paul uses the term “stand firm” in the Lord. Philippi was a military city with many military families.  Again, Paul uses military imagery to connect to his audience. Earlier they were to march in step as they walked in a manner worthy of the gospel (1:27 and 3:16). The Roman armies were known for standing unmoved against an enemy. The church was to stand in the same way in the face of those who were enemies of the cross and false teachers.

 

It’s amazing how everything goes back to 1:27 in Philippians. In 1:27and 4:1 Paul calls us to stand firm.

 

Read Ephesians 6:11-13

Hebrews 12:4

James 4:7

1 Peter 5:8-9

It is more crucial now than ever to be a united family at Emmanuel who stands together as one side by side unmoved against the enemy as we advance the gospel. We are in this together. As the onslaughts of the word, the flesh, and the devil try to ravish our souls, we will need the encouragement and mutual care that comes from being together as body of believers.

 

Let us stand firm Emmanuel!!!

 

Dear Lord,

I want to stand firm in the gospel as I labor side by side with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  The world, my flesh, and the devil are sometimes so powerful that I cannot do this alone. I need the other believers you’ve blessed me with here at Emmanuel. Help me to be an encouragement to others. Help me to exhort us to stand firm for the glory of Christ and the advancement of His gospel! Help me to remember that my citizenship is not here on this earth, but ultimately is in heaven!

For His Glory,

Amen

 

 

40 Days in Philippians DAY TWENTY SEVEN

Read Philippians 3:15-21

After giving an extended testimony about his past life as a Hebrew of Hebrews and sharing his desire to be found in Christ, in verses 15-16 Paul gives three commands to the Philippian church.

 

First of all, he again focuses on thinking. To be like-minded. He used this same word back in 2:5 in speaking of having the same mind as Christ.

 

As a matter of fact, this word “think” or “have the same mind” occurs at least 8 times in Philippians.

 

Why is it so crucial that we as believers experience this like-mindedness? What happens in the life of a church if there is not a unity or like-mindedness? Is there someone in the body that you know of right now that you disagree with? Or that you have an issue with? What is your responsibility to that person?

 

Paul is saying that a true sign of Christian maturity is to have this desire to obtain the prize of Christ. To know Him more fully. In other words, the true sign that you are growing as a Christian is that your passion for knowing Jesus more intimately is growing. You want to spend more time with Him.

 

Secondly, Paul issues a warning to those of the “perfectionist heresy” camp who believed that they could somehow attain sinless perfection in this life. He warns them that God will reveal to them the error of their ways in thinking that they can become perfect. Paul struggles as a believer. He strains toward the prize. He hasn’t arrived yet and he is issuing a warning to people who think that they can have a “sin and struggle free” Christianity.

 

Thirdly, Paul gives an exhortation in verse 16. What exactly is this encouragement?

The ESV translates it “hold true” while the NIV says, “let us live up to”. It literally means to march in a row as a soldier. To have a disciplined and orderly walk.

 

In the context of what you know about Philippians so far, what is that “which we have attained”?  Remember to go back to 1:6 and 1:27

 

Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Verses 8-9 describe our salvation experience, but what does verse 10 teach us?

 

Verse 16 is an exhortation for us as both individuals and a corporate body of believers to hold fast to the gospel of our salvation. To be disciplined in our walk and not to be swayed by these false teachers who are trying to pervert the truth (3:2)

 

Think about how important this imagery of soldiers marching together in a row is such a powerful metaphor for how we are to live our lives together in community as Christ’s church?

 

In verse 17, Paul encourages them to imitate him. This may sound a little egotistical for Paul to tell them to imitate him. But yet, God has placed godly mentors and examples in our lives that we should emulate.

 

Ultimately, we are accountable to Christ and should follow Him alone, but He gives us models and those stronger and more mature in the faith to encourage and equip us.

 

Read 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

 

In verses 18-19, Paul delivers his final blow against these false teachers that he started to elaborate on back in 3:2, and it is filled with emotion.

 

Why is Paul filled with tears for these Philippian believers?

 

Many people walk as enemies of the cross of Christ today. There are some who are ambivalent and disinterested in the things of Christ and don’t readily accept the message of the gospel. Yet, there are also those who are militantly against the gospel.

 

When we see the gospel of Jesus being opposed so violently in our world today it should also drive us to tears! As things get worse in America and there is more intolerance for Christianity, we will need each other more than ever to stand together and advance the gospel.

 

Tomorrow we will see Paul’s graphic description of these enemies of the cross, but for today, spend some time thanking God for the godly mentors and influencers in your life who have been models of godliness to you.

 

Dear Father,

When I see so many enemies of the cross, I am moved to tears! It breaks my heart to see not only the sin in the world, but also the sin in my own heart. I am so thankful for the bloody cross. Thank you for bearing God’s wrath in my place and granting me absolute forgiveness from my sins.  Please help me to continue to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel for Your glory alone!

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

 

40 Days in Philippians DAY TWENTY SIX

Read Philippians 3:12-14

 

In verse 13, Paul does not consider to have laid hold of it, seized it, tackled it! Again this means that he has not become mature. He has not achieved a state of perfected Christ-likeness. He hasn’t arrived.

 

But there is ONE THING he does: He is forgetting what is behind—those accolades, accomplishments, sins, habits, whatever that weight him down—he’s not living in the past—he’s not letting his past failures hinder his future growth. We can learn from past failures, but let’s not stay there.

 

He is also “straining”—this word again has athletic imagery as it was used of a runner stretching every ounce of their muscles to the limit—he puts forth effort to know Christ and become more Christ-like.

 

It doesn’t happen automatically. It takes discipline. It won’t happen by osmosis. The Holy Spirit produces the work in your life and causes the growth, but you still have a responsibility.

 

In verse 14, Paul presses on toward the goal.

 

  • For the prize—the scepter given to the winner of the race representing victory
  • Of the Upward call—often times the victor is called up on the platform to receive the prize
  • IN CHRIST JESUS—this is the ultimate key

The final prize is not necessarily heaven although that is wonderful. It is a by-product of the ultimate prize. The ultimate prize is CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF!

John Piper in his book “God is the Gospel” says this: “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauty you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there? Can we really say that we are being prepared for heaven where Christ Himself, not His gifts, will be the supreme pleasure?”
Is Christ your supreme treasure and are you pressing on to know Him more deeply and to joyfully await seeing Him face to face?

 

Precious Jesus,

I forget what is behind and press on and strain toward the prize—You are the PRIZE!! As great as heaven will be, it will mean nothing if I’m not there with You. You are glorious and worth it all! You are my supreme treasure and I can’t wait to see You face to face! May I keep my eyes fixed on YOU!

To God Be the Glory,

Amen

 

40 Days in Philippians DAY TWENTY FIVE

Read Philippians 3:12-15

 

Theological excursion: The Perfectionist Heresy

Paul is going to combat a heresy that was probably evident in the church in Philippi and is one that is fairly common today among some branches of evangelicalism. It is the perfectionist heresy that says that we can achieve a state of sinless perfection here on earth and actually cease from sinning. There might have been some in Philippi who thought that they could somehow attain this super knowledge of Christ and attain this sinless perfection and thus be in a state of sinlessness. Paul knocks that heresy right out of the water.

 

In verse 12, Paul uses the word “perfect” which basically “means mature or full grown”. It is in the “Perfect” tense which is very important.  It literally means I have not reached a level of completed maturity or absolute perfection. I’m still in the process of growth.

 

While my position is perfect through justification and I am adopted into God’s family, there’s still so much more growth I need to experience to be Christ like. And even so, I still haven’t been experienced the completion of my salvation, which is my glorified and resurrected body.

 

In essence, Paul is saying it this way,

  • I have been saved—it is a past tense reality that happened not only on the cross but the moment I placed my faith in Jesus, I was justified or declared not guilty forever.
  • I will be saved—there is still an aspect of my salvation that hasn’t occurred yet which will complete or bring to culmination my redemption—a new glorified body in the presence of Christ in eternity. This is a future reality.

Yet, how do I live in the present? Do I idly sit by and wait to be raptured? Do I do nothing and just let go and let God? Am I passively just waiting on God to do everything in the Christian life? Do I collect my fire insurance and coast knowing that I get to avoid hell?

 

Reread Philippians 2:12-13 and see how Paul has already shed light on this question.

 

Paul says “I press on” which means that he continually, as an ongoing process pursues, chases, runs after…

 

Paul is a sports fan. This is very evident from his epistles. He loves athletics and we see this analogy of a runner in the Olympic games. This word for press on was used of a sprinter who exerts aggressive energy to win the race

 

This is where the translation gets murky. The ESV says “to make it my own”—the King James says “apprehended”; the New American Standard says “lay hold of”; the NIV says, “take hold of”. The word in Greek means all of these—to seize, grasp, take possession, grip firmly and even to tackle. All words that denote aggressive, energetic activity of the believer.

 

To what does Paul grab so tightly?  We have to ask the question in reverse because Paul tells us in a roundabout way.  For what PURPOSE did Jesus tackle, seize, lay hold or even make us His own? Why did Christ hunt us down and save us by His grace? Why did Jesus stoop so low to lay hold of us as sinners?

 

Why was Paul blinded on that Damascus road and changed forever?

 

In other words, why in the world does God save sinners?  To make us better-behaved people? To enhance our life and self-esteem? To give us our every heart’s desire?

 

Read Romans 8:29.

 

God saved us to conform us to the image of His Son. In other words, we are saved to live a life of worship where day by day we are becoming more Christ-like.

 

If that is why Christ laid hold of us—to makes us like Him—then that is Paul’s burning desire as well—to tackle, seize, or apprehend this desire to become Christ-like. To actively live out the purpose for why he was saved.

 

Spend some time praising Jesus for “tackling” you and making you His own through saving grace!

 

Dear Jesus,

Thank you so much for “tackling” me in Your grace. I was lost and you grabbed a hold of me in salvation to make me look more like You! I would never in a million years ever save myself! I was desperately lost until You rescued me in Your sovereign grace.  I know that I will never be perfect in this life, but I press on toward knowing You more deeply. I wait with anticipation the day I step foot in heaven and will experience ultimate perfection in Your presence.

For Your Glory,

Amen

40 Days in Philippians DAY TWENTY FOUR

Read Philippians 3:8-11

 

Yesterday we discovered what it means to be “in Christ”—to have this imputed righteousness that does not come from ourselves, but is given to us as a free gift of grace. This is justification by faith alone.

 

Yet, how should being “in Christ” as a justified sinner motivate us to live a life pleasing to Him?

 

That is what separates the terms justification from sanctification.  Justification is the one time legal declaration that we are RIGHTEOUS before God on account of Christ.
Definition: Sanctification is the process a believer undergoes as the Spirit of God works in him to make him like Christ and this continues our entire lifetime.

 

Paul shifts from justification to sanctification. In other words, Paul shifts from our position to our condition. Our position never changes, but our condition can. There are times when we don’t seek after God. There are times when we don’t have a passion for Christ. There are times when we are hindered by habitual sin. There are times when we are flat out disobedient.  While we cannot ever be condemned or punished or guilty for our sins because of imputed righteousness through justification, we can have degrees of less passion, less enthusiasm, less obedience, and less intensity in the Christian walk.

 

In verse 10, what is Paul’s desire?

 

To KNOW Him—this is an active verb—it is a strong verb—Again he wants to know personally, intimately, spiritually the depth of Christ.

 

Read Ephesians 3:17-19

 

Paul had a holy dissatisfaction with his present condition. Dissatisfaction is a good thing because it drives us to want more. To go deeper with Jesus.

 

How many of us today can say that we are stuck in our relationship with Christ. We are stagnant. We want more!! We are dissatisfied with where we are. The Holy Spirit puts this dissatisfaction in our hearts to motivate us to pursue Christ.

 

Not only does Paul want to know deeply Jesus, he also wants to experience this POWER.

 

And not only power but share in his sufferings.  The word share is “koinonia” which means joint partnership

 

That’s a bold statement. We like POWER, we like knowing Jesus—but this suffering issue? That doesn’t sound exciting and fun.

 

Suffering is one of those hard things that come upon us as believers that sometimes doesn’t make sense. What if I were tell you that for God to bring true revival to your life and your family it would involve a major interruption that might bring suffering? Would you welcome it with joy or run as far from it as you can. I don’t know the secret things of God so I don’t know what He might do, but it is within His divine prerogative to both ordain and allow suffering for His children.

 

What is our hope in the gospel?  It is to experience the life changing power of the gospel in salvation, to be declared not guilty, to be born again, and to know Christ—and we should be excited about these things. But for Paul, there was the ultimate hope:

 

Paul’s ultimate hope was complete salvation with a resurrected body in the very presence of Christ in heaven. This is what theologians call glorification.

 

In verse 11, he says “by any means possible”—this is not doubt on Paul’s part in that he is somehow going to miss it—but words of humility from the chiefest of sinners who is in awe that God saved him.

 

Have you ever stopped and wondered why God saved you? Was there anything in you that cried out “I’m worthy to be saved!!”  None of us can make that claim for it would be boasting and we know that we are saved by grace through faith alone.

 

The word “attain” means to arrive at a goal—Paul’s ultimate hope was based upon the fact was that he would arrive at the goal of the resurrection from the dead.

 

This word for resurrection is used nowhere else in Scripture—it is unique to Paul in this verse and it literally means “out-resurrection”—the new body, the glorified state—which happens at the Second Coming of Christ when we are changed in a twinkling of an eye and receive our new glorified bodies.

 

Reread Philippians 1:21 and mediate upon this for yourself for a few moments.

 

Do you have a holy dissatisfaction and desire more of Jesus? Go to Him now in prayer and express your need for Him!

 

Dear Jesus,

I am blown away that you would save me! That you would take the full penalty of my sin and then credit me with your perfect righteousness! I am like Paul—I want to KNOW you more deeply! I want more of your power. I want more of your presence! I want more of YOU! Even if that means suffering to get more of YOU!!  My heart’s desire is that you would be my all-consuming magnificent obsession!

For Your Glory and Name,

Amen